Angela grew up in the North First Street area of San Jose (Calif.). She remembers the area being a close-knit community. She later bought a home in the same area as an adult. Angela gives a good description of the camaraderie and the familial relations between coworkers. She remembers the workers taking pride in the work; the closure of the cannery is extremely saddening to her.
Most of Angela's real family worked in the cannery. Angela had lots of friends from the cannery. She also remembers the cliquey nature of the women and the various gossiping problems and drama on the social level of the work. She remembers the "tattle tailing" to the foreladies and bickering between women. This element of the work is amusing to her.
She remembers taking pride in the work and being satisfied; especially in her favorite position as a seamer. She discusses a period at the cannery where women were beginning to be allowed to do men's work, during the early Women's Liberation period of the 1960s. She worked a night cleaning shift operating a powerful hose and came home in pain from the ten-hour shifts of operating heavy equipment. She gives a good picture of the speed of working on the line. The non-stop shifts, the mechanics that would come immediately to repair a break in the line or the foreladies who had the responsibility to for filling in when a line worker needed to take a bathroom break.
She discusses injuries on the job. Lost fingers and cuts were common. She remembers one man who stepped on a nail and avoided going to the doctor so that he could remain working; he later died of lock-jaw. Injuries were hard on employees because they needed to remain working so that they could be paid and take care of their families.
Part of the San Jose Del Monte Cannery Oral History Project by History San Jose and Community Heritage Partners, sponsored by KB Home, Inc. Interview by Margo McBane and Joseph Rivera. Videographer Rick Romero, Video Editor Brea Romero.